So I'm working in San Francisco temporarily, for a tech startup (what else?), who operate out of the WeWork building in Civic Center SF. I'm pretty impressed with the WeWork CoWorking Space, I really think it contributes to generating the vibe and success of its startups. In order to inform and inspire other cities, and particularly Barcelona (my adopted city) I write this post with some details about what it is like working in an SF startup environment.
The WeWork co-working space has been carefully designed to host a whole array of startups of all sizes. They operate the whole building of 5 floors (I'm talking about their Civic Center office). The operation is carefully managed as a community and supported by full-time staff members and ancillery community services through its App.
The first thing any visitor notices is the very cool interior design: green plants, cool chairs, sofas, (massage machine), inspiring posters on retro wall-paper.. etc. Just, very cool.
( I took this photo from their website, because my own iPhone photos came out a little grainy. But I can confirm this is as cool as it looks) This decor does inspire that feeling of "this is really cool". And it really does inspire.
After picking up on the details (like the free draft beer) it soon becomes clear why these spaces really work: it's thriving with activity, as if you were working in one enormous and successful design company. This feeling of contributing to something larger, and something awesome, really permeates the place. It really does inspire you to "do your best work" (as they proffer) because it feels like you've already "made it", and therefore inspires you with confidence to "make things happen". Inviting clients to your WeWork space is certain to inspire confidence in them, so you won't hesitate to do so.
This feeling of - as if you were all working for the same organisation - inspires you to also speak freely with other people - who actually operate their own startups, from one-man bands, through small teams to entire operations (500px is on the second floor).
Free conversation, synergy between startups of all sizes and sectors, this is an environment designed & operated to "make things happen". The environment is engineered to generate serendipity and synergy between its members. Add to that a thriving community app that facilitates conversation and cooperation. There is no doubt left in your mind that within this environment great things are going to happen, it's almost too easy.
Let's look at some of the details that make this happen.
The Water Cooler
Shared kitchen areas, free tea and coffee facilitate "water-cooler" conversations where networking comes for free. Yes, that is free draft beer on tap you see in front of the Never Settle msg.
Meeting rooms are clearly a must. How cool are these rooms? Everything is setup, plug n play, and woo clients and colleagues.
This is a nice idea, tiny call booths with "on air" indicators for those long-distance calls.
Aside from enormous lobby and floor entry lounges, there are also small rooms designed for comfortable, informal meetings.
Printing and Stuff
No need to buy your own equipment, WeWork has your back.
Besides the lobby each floor has a communal space by the "kitchen". Sick of the office? Pull up a rocking chair, or lounge the sofa and work on your laptop. Cool.
The community is also managed by dedicated staff. Mondays there are often new-member meets, or free snacks to share.
There is an Honesty Market: snacks and drinks openly available to grab. Just add your credit card to the app, take what you want and scan it to get billed.
A technical word for essentially real-world 3rd plugins: working late and feeling hungry? Grubhub will deliver in 30 mins. Order your home shopping from Instacart while you work and it will be there when you get your Uber back home. It's all good.
That's about it for now, I won't go into the boring details. Here's to hoping that Barcelona and other centres take shape and create inspiring hubs of innovation like WeWork here in San Francisco.
If you are working in SF, especially at WeWork Civic Center and read this? Ping me and we'll grab a coffee @derrybirkett
Now to make awesome!